Public Lands

Wasting Away in Methaneville

Another Trump rollback gets slapped down in court.

A week ago, a federal district court overturned yet another ill-conceived rollback by the Trump Administration. The case, California v. Bernhardt, involved releases of methane, a potent greenhouse gas. The legal flaws in the rollback by the Bureau of Land Management, are all too typical of the Administration’s work product. The Administration has repeatedly lost …

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July Fourth at Mt. Rushmore: What about the “unalienable rights” of the Lakota?

In the limbo game of the 45th presidency: no matter how far the bar descends, Trump clears it by going under. Just two weeks after political furor over a planned Juneteenth support rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma—site of the 1921 Race Massacre, in which white mobs killed up to 300 Black people in 48 hours, and …

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Fancy Dancing on the Appalachian Trail

How to Use Textualism to Evade Statutory Texts

The Supreme Court’s decision in Cowpasture case allows gas pipelines to cross the Appalachian trial. The ruling didn’t get much attention because of its timing. It came down the same day as Bostock, which outlawed employment discrimination against gays and transsexuals. Bostock featured a big battle over the meaning of textualism. But Cowpasture was also …

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Surprise! Major Land Conservation Bill Poised to Pass Congress

Republican-Led Senate Prepared to Preserve Public Lands–and Political Careers?

Over the past decade, we’ve become resigned to the sad fact of congressional gridlock: a hopelessly partisan and paralyzed Congress, seemingly unable to pass major legislation on the environmental protection, natural resource conservation or, indeed, any number of other policy fronts. So it has to come as a  shock to most observers that this week …

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Trump says he will allow commercial fishing in national monument

An Antiquities Act edition of “can he do that”?

On June 5, President Trump issued a “Proclamation on Modifying The Northeast Canyons And Seamounts Marine National Monument.” This Proclamation follows a court defeat for opponents of the National Monument — the DC Circuit last year dismissed a claim by commercial fishing interests that the National Monument was unlawfully designated. Trump’s Proclamation purports to modify …

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NEPA, emergencies and executive power

Once more we need to ask, can Trump do what he claims to be doing?

Late Thursday, the White House issued another in a seemingly endless series of administrative orders. Under the typically overblown title “EO on Accelerating the Nation’s Economic Recovery from the COVID-19 Emergency by Expediting Infrastructure Investments and Other Activities,” it was touted by the President’s team as a way to speed infrastructure permitting and another step …

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(Still More) Bad News on the Doorstep

New Reports Document Accelerating Wildlife Extinctions, Global Deforestation Trends

While public attention in recent weeks and months has understandably focused on the COVID-19 pandemic and the racial justice shockwaves triggered by George Floyd’s tragic death, another disaster continues apace. This week the New York Times published two alarming stories documenting the accelerating decline of our global environment.  The first, entitled “Extinctions Are Accelerating, Threatening …

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Top 10 Worst Environmental Decisions in California’s History

Ranking the lost landscapes and environmental features

California has a paradoxical history with its environment. On one hand, the state boasts incredible natural beauty, along with a government that is an internationally recognized leader for strong environmental policies. But the state’s residents have also caused severe environmental destruction, particularly in the late nineteenth century — some of which helped spur the mobilization …

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Coastal Beaches, Public Access & the Pandemic

Important Legal & Policy Considerations in Closing Beaches to Protect Public Health

As part of America’s steadily growing restiveness over state and local shelter-in-place directives, the issue of government-mandated public beach closures has recently emerged as a particularly contentious issue.  It’s especially prominent now, given that many coastal states are experiencing their first heat waves of 2020. Many Americans are increasingly weary of and angry over public …

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Public Lands Watch: Revisions to NEPA regulations

Trump Administration proposes drastic revisions to regulations that implement bedrock environmental law

The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) is one of the most important statutes for public lands management in the United States, even though it actually is not specific to public lands. NEPA requires federal agencies to analyze and publicly disclose the significant environmental impacts of proposed agency actions, consider alternatives to those proposals, and seek …

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